In my book, “Faith to Practice: Foundations of Happiness,” I introduce the concept of “radical acceptance,” and the beliefs I used at the time of that writing (2012) to support me in this practice. The main goal of the book is not to give the reader “all the answers” in the form of beliefs and detailed rationalizations for adopting them, but to provide examples of beliefs and practices which will inspire the reader to discover and craft their own.
In this time of social / political upheaval, vast divisions of world view, and pressing environmental problems, many people are living in fear for the future of our world. If we are to raise our consciousness in this challenging cultural environment, the practice of radical acceptance is more needed than ever! So in this post I’m offering beliefs at many levels of understanding, so that at least one of them will be “acceptable” by the majority of people, and adopted to support this highly effective practice.
In the process of writing the book, I gained an understanding of the problem of non-acceptance of spiritual truths / beliefs. If people changed their belief systems and behaviors by simply giving them wise information, we would have been living in peace from the time that aspect of human nature came into being! Our true nature however is more limited. In the chapter “Faithful Evolution,” I describe how we can adopt new interpretations of teachings as we raise our consciousness through spiritual practices. We can only live by beliefs that we can feel in our hearts, which are those that come from a slightly higher level of consciousness than our own. Thus spiritual teachings that can be interpreted in many ways are valuable to the largest number of people, that span a range of levels of capacity for understanding.
In our consumer culture, many people seem to be looking for others to tell them what to believe, rather than do the work of contemplating their own beliefs and understandings. Perhaps this also comes from our emphasis on science, where we often understand that there is only one correct answer to a question at any given scale of reality. We are used to 1 + 1 always equalling 2! Witness the success of fundamentalist churches, where interpretation of scripture is largely prescribed and one set of beliefs are held above all others. I believe the success of these organizations depends on finding people at similar levels of consciousness and then “selling them” belief systems that are “within their reach.” I’m not saying there is anything wrong with this! If a person lives by the same beliefs their whole lives and does their best to follow any wholesome interpretation of the teachings of Jesus, the world benefits greatly. However, when those loving practices are done very devoutly, they tend to raise consciousness and shift the person towards higher and higher understandings, so they will eventually feel like “a fish out of water” in a fundamentalist environment that caters to more mainstream modes of thinking.
Different levels of belief to support a practice of acceptance
The question addressed below can be stated as, “Many spiritual teachings recommend a practice of ‘non-judgment.’ How can I accept the horrors of the world?” Here are a range of beliefs / understandings:
- Meta level, helpful at all levels of consciousness where there is some access to the rational mind. When we judge, we spend a lot of energy that is better spent in a process of loving thoughts and actions at whatever level of understanding we currently have of love. Even the process of working through the energy of individual self love, (to improve your own personal life, “selfishness”), is disrupted by the energy of judgment against others. Leave the burdensome process of judgment to others (and God, if you are so inclined)! Simply notice your different opinion and act on it in positive ways when you are so inspired, without giving any energy to people / organizations that do not hold that opinion.
- Paradigm of nurture / historical causes of personal / organizational proclivities. Every person / organization is doing the best they can, based on their own past emotional traumas, fears of death, their understandings of human nature and how the world works, and so on. Judging a person / organization (based on their behavior) as “evil,” “bad,” or even “less than” based on any hypothetical standard is presumptuous at best. In the process of judgment, that standard could fall anywhere on the behavior spectrum. “Drawing the line” just creates more conflict. So for example, we can see that all wars were fought in the name of “good / righteousness” as that was understood by both sides!
- Paradigm of karma & spiritual continuity of each soul / reincarnation. Each person / organization has their own level of consciousness from which their ability to adopt belief systems and their behaviors arises. Every person / organization is on a spiritual journey from lower consciousness (fear based energies of shame, hate, exclusivity, and even pride) to higher consciousness (love based energies of courage, willingness, inclusive generosity, etc). For a person / soul this spiritual journey spans multiple lifetimes. Each of us has lived through the lower energies of fear to various degrees in this and former lifetimes. Thus we can identify compassionately with the challenges faced by those that are dominated by lower energies than we are currently enjoying, even when their actions seem to be harming us, because we know we have all been there and really are not so different from them.
- Paradigm of Unity, Oneness and immanent Divinity. Passing judgment against other people / organizations is tantamount to judging yourself, because there is no actual separation. This is a high consciousness interpretation of the teaching on judging from Jesus, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:1-3) Would you judge yourself “bad” if a part of your body became unhealthy or broken? Jesus can be understood to use the “log in your own eye” metaphor to describe the very process of judging as blocking our vision from seeing through God’s unconditional Love. Thus he teaches that we must love every part of the body of creation as a sacred aspect of ourselves, through our thoughts and practices. We can “fake it until we make it” to the realization of the Unity of our true nature.
It is important to note that anyone that is already asking this profoundly important question, has come to a level of consciousness / understanding from which they are already able to find their own answer, or personal articulation of an answer, if they give the question enough contemplative thought. However, I seek to shorten that process with this post.